Israeli police beef up security for Beitar-Sakhnin soccer match
Published Tuesday 17/12/2013 15:44
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- More than 300 Israeli police officers in addition to private security guards deployed around Doha Stadium in the Palestinian city of Sakhnin in northern Israel on Tuesday afternoon ahead of a soccer match between rival teams Bnei Sakhnin and Beitar Jerusalem.
Tensions are high in Sakhnin in anticipation of the match, as besides being major rivals, Beitar Jerusalem is notorious in Israel for the anti-Arab racism of its fans as well as for being the only Israeli team to have never had an Arab player. Bnei Sakhnin, meanwhile, is the only Palestinian squad in the Israeli premier league.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that police officers would demand Beitar Jerusalem fans park their cars in a special lot near the stadium from where private buses will carry them to the stadium under police supervision.
She added that liquor cans, fireworks, rods and any such objects won’t be allowed into the stadium. Flags will be permitted but without any poles attached, she said.
Following a match between the two teams in Sakhnin in 2012, Beitar fans rioted and assaulted Sakhnin players. Beitar fans have repeatedly rioted following games and during rallies and targeted Palestinian passerby for assault, most recently in Jerusalem in July.
The premier league match was scheduled on Saturday but it was postponed due to the winter storm which hit the region. Bnei Sakhnin, the only Palestinian squad in the Israeli premier league, is currently number three with 22 points, while Beitar Jerusalem is number 11 with 14 points.